Teenagers sexting remains a serious problem all parents should be on the lookout for and to put a stop to, if discovered.
The most recent data I could find (from a comprehensive 2008 study) contained a whopping stat. Some 20% of teens admit to having sent at least one nude, or partially nude picture to another person in a text message (which is what a ‘sext’ is).
I would sure hope every parent would be saddened at hearing that stat. And that was seven years ago. Now, consider our porn-saturated culture and the fact that virtually every American teen carries a cell phone. Given that, do you think that percentage has risen or fallen from 20%, since 2008?
Yeah, this is a tremendous challenge.
MORE SOBERING STATS
Statistics compiled by CovenantEyes.com serve as somber reminders of how pervasive sexting has become.
31% of teenagers have received a nude or semi-nude picture or video from someone.
43% of teenage students say they have experienced or witnessed peer pressure to post sexy pictures or videos to social networking site profiles.
29% of teens say they have received sext pictures or videos which were originally meant for someone else.
45% do not realize sending naked pictures of themselves could earn them legal consequences.
Among those teenagers sexting, 69% have sent such content to their boyfriend/girlfriend.
Of teenagers sexting, 30% sent sexually provocative content to someone they desired to date or to hook up with.
Of all teenagers sexting, 63% said they sent the pictures or videos to be “fun or flirtatious.”
Just 14% of teenagers sexting ever get caught by the authorities.
4 WAYS SEXTING COULD GO WRONG, IN A HURRY
Teenagers do not have the forward-thinking skills they will (or at least should) develop later in life. Their brains are not fully formed yet, so they take more risks. For teenagers sexting, this could result in terrible consequences.
1. Sexting is an illegal activity, and is punishable by law.
As the stat above indicated, many teens do not realize sexting could lead to legal troubles for themselves.
Teenagers sexting have been levied with a variety of charges. Disorderly conduct, illegal use of child pornography, and sexual abuse of children have all been charges minors have faced. Sending sexts could even be a felony charge, depending on the jurisdiction.
2. Sext messages and videos can go viral.
Of those who receive sexts, 20% of them share them with someone else. As stated above, 29% of teenagers sexting receive sexual content not originally intended for them to view.
In other words, if your teenage son or daughter sends a sext to a peer, it could be shared to anyone. What parent would want nude photos of their child to be shared across cyber space?
3. Sexting indicates deeper problems.
Motivations vary for teenagers sexting. Many are expressing themselves sexually. Some see it as means to be sexually available to their boyfriend/girlfriend without “going all the way.”
Among other teenagers sexting, the reason could be to get back at an ex or to play a joke on someone.
The teenage years are a difficult time as it is. Trying to navigate safely through middle school and high school without a moral compass is next to impossible.
4. Sexting is gravely immoral.
Clearly, sexting remains a gravely immoral act. Not only are the children trafficking pornographic images, but they are leading others to sin. Immodesty, lust, etc. are infractions incured by sexting. Those caught up in it need to become reconciled to God. Any parents condoning or turning a blind eye to such activity are also guilty of scandal.
4 PARENTAL STEPS NECESSARY
Do not be so pompous or naïve to think your son or daughter would never send a nude picture of herself or view pornographic material. Not all of them do, but way more than enough already have. The temptation is great. Therefore, take the initiative to protect your son or daughter from themselves.
1. Teach your child chastity.
What parent does not want their son or daughter to practice virtues? Obviously, they want them to do so in matters pertaining to their sexuality as well.
I am also a chastity speaker, and I would like to make myself available. If you would like a talk to be given to the teens at your parish or gathering, you can contact me, of course.
2. Limit Internet access for your teens
I realize virtually every teen has a cell phone these days. But that does not mean your child must have one as well.
Yes, it would be nice to receive a call from them if soccer practice ends early. However, given that everyone else on the team has a cell phone, there won’t be shortage of phones to borrow.
An alternative would be to give your kids a phone with just 15 minutes a month and no access to the Internet.
Barring that, if you do give them a cell phone, but you do not have filters on it, you’re just playing with fire.
Same goes for Internet access on computers. Get the computers out of the kids’ bedrooms and out of the basement. Put the computer in the living room, where mom and dad can view all web browsing at any time.
Remember, some day you will answer to God for your parenting decisions.
3. Get accountability software installed on all your Internet devices.
CovenantEyes.com is one of the leaders in this industry. They have good software you can have installed on your family computer, your laptops, all cell phones, etc.
If you cannot afford that suggestion, K-9 Web Protection offers a scaled down version for free. It works well. Something is better than nothing.
4. Try to get your teens to avail themselves to God and to the Sacraments.
Healing can begin if the teens avail themselves to the forgiveness of Christ. You can schedule a meeting between your minor and your pastor. You can also take your teen to the Sacrament of Confession, if you are Catholic.
If you have any sexting teenagers, they are in a state of mortal sin, and likely need your encouragement to get right with God.
What are your thoughts about teenagers sexting?
What steps have you found effect in handling this problem?
Please share below.